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Mike Klink, former inspector for TransCanada is seeking whistleblower protection from the U.S. Department of Labor. Klink writes, "What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as 'not too bad,' shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands. ... Let's be clear - I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn't build pipelines. We just should not build this one."

Ruptured Enbridge tar sands pipeline caused Michigan oil spill, 03/12/10. (photo: National Transportation Safety Board)
Ruptured Enbridge tar sands pipeline caused Michigan oil spill, 03/12/10. (photo: National Transportation Safety Board)



TransCanada Inspector: Keystone XL Pipeline Not Safe

By Mike Klink, JournalStar

03 January 12

 

here has been a lot of talk about the safety of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

I am not an environmentalist, but as a civil engineer and an inspector for TransCanada during the construction of the first Keystone pipeline, I've had an uncomfortable front-row seat to the disaster that Keystone XL could bring about all along its pathway.

Despite its boosters' advertising, this project is not about jobs or energy security. It is about money. And whenever my former employer Bechtel, working on behalf of TransCanada, had to choose between safety and saving money, they chose to save money.

As an inspector, my job was to monitor the construction of the first Keystone pipeline. I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell the truth about what was done and covered up.

When I last raised concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job - but people along the Keystone XL pathway have a lot more to lose if this project moves forward with the same shoddy work.

What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as "not too bad," shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.

I shared these concerns with my bosses, who communicated them to the bigwigs at TransCanada, but nothing changed. TransCanada didn't appear to care. That is why I was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, N.D., where a 60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar sands oil and fouled neighboring fields.

TransCanada says that the performance has been OK. Fourteen spills is not so bad. And that the pump stations don't really count. That is all bunk. This thing shouldn't be leaking like a sieve in its first year - what do you think happens decades from now after moving billions of barrels of the most corrosive oil on the planet?

Let's be clear - I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn't build pipelines. We just should not build this one.

Pipelines can and do stand the test of time, but TransCanada already has shown that they cannot. After working on engineering projects all over the world, I can tell you that a company that cared about safety would not follow these types of practices.

If it were a car, the first Keystone would be a lemon. And it would be far worse to double down on a proven loser with Keystone XL.

The stories of how TransCanada has bullied landowners in Nebraska rings true to me. I am living it, as well. After repeatedly telling the contractor and TransCanada about my concerns, I lost my job.

But I couldn't watch silently as a company put innocent people at risk with a haphazardly built pipeline. I am speaking out on behalf of my children and your children.

Oil spills are no joke. We need to do all we can to protect our water and our food. I am glad the Nebraska Legislature stepped up to protect Nebraskans. I can only hope that they stand up to TransCanada. We should all take a hard look at the damage that this pipeline will do. I should know; I've seen it in person.

Please do not sell out to foreign oil and foreign suppliers. There is no guarantee the product will stay in the United States, only the toxic waste. God bless the United States and those of us who still believe in the fact that her people matter.

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+39 # Karlus58 2012-01-03 11:17
Thank you sir, for your courage. Will your warnings be bullhorned to the public? Sadly, I think you will not see nor hear your just cry in the MSM.
 
 
+33 # paxuniversalis 2012-01-03 11:30
A revelatory piece. Not likely the major news media will pick up on it.

One thing that is overlooked as well is the fact that as the author notes, the lion's share of Keystone has already been completed. The squabble is now about an extension/expan sion of the capacity and a few new loci for shipment or processing.

These are very real concerns. Would that the congress was informed or cared.
 
 
+17 # noitall 2012-01-03 11:57
This administration would label this guy a "TERRORIST". Whether you're taking a picture of sick and abused livestock destined for American tables or whistle blowing on insane/unsafe corporate projects that will be a "TAKE" from all of our futures, to speak out against the corporations is to be a terrorist. Just as we would be a terrorist in the eyes of the attackers if we had to fight to protect our country from an invading country, we are terrorists for getting in the way of the true citizens of this country, the corporations. Its a wrap! In the America of yesterday, the media would be labeled terrorists for the complete cover-up that they have abetted that has led to the inevitable down-fall of this country. As things currently stand, this country can't.
 
 
-25 # MidwestTom 2012-01-03 12:07
I am always skeptical of comments from ex-employees. If they are retired there is more creditability than if they were fired, as is the apparent case here. The fact that Trans Canada hires inspectors in encouraging. The firm that I am with right now does a lot of pie welding for high pressure and high temperature applications. The reason that one pressure checks all welds is find any leakers and fix them, because welding is not an exact science and errors are invisible unless tested. DOT standards must be met for any pipelines constructed in the U.S.
 
 
+22 # gentle 2012-01-03 13:58
May be fact where you "work" but welding is a exact science where I retired from. (30 yrs journeyman machine repair) On a real factory floor, even the welding robots have to be constantly monitored and UT checked. Gamma ray x-rays are employed as well. Them hillbillies with the f450 and a Miller pipe-liner in the back, running a E-6010 root pass with E-7018 cap suck @ welding. Everyone knows about that scam trade. Matter of the facts is that if you are producing "leakers", your welding process is flawed - trust me.
 
 
+14 # Regina 2012-01-03 14:05
I fail to understand the glee and joy that these corporations derive from shoddy materials, shabby work, and sneaky cover-ups. But they all do it -- think BP and Massey Energy. Keystone is in the same evil league. Deaths don't stop them. Inspectors are bribed away. We need to repeat the now-classic question to Joe McCarthy: Have you no sense of decency???
 
 
+8 # Alcuin 2012-01-03 16:38
Psychopaths don't feel, don't have any empathy, and don't care about anyone except themselves. Glee and joy? I've not seen it. But I see all the evidence that I need to see that big corporations are run by psychopaths.
 
 
+12 # noitall 2012-01-03 17:25
Corporations don't look any further ahead than the next quarterly profits statement. When the worst happens, they throw money at it and 'all is well'. For them, not for the environment or our future. Fines levied against their wreckless work are less than the profits made. How do you spell collusion.
 
 
+2 # Regina 2012-01-04 16:12
No -- their work is reckless, and far, far from "wreckless." We get a lot of wreckage from their recklessness.
 

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